Carlyle sells stake in Japanese crane maker for $33m

The firm has sold 21% of Tokyo-listed Kito Corporation to Finnish lifting business Konecranes, and will divest a further 10% through a share buyback scheme.

The Carlyle Group has this week sold a 21 percent stake in Japanese hoist and crane manufacturer Kito Corporation to Finnish lifting business Konecranes for ¥3.3 billion ($33 million), according to a statement from the purchaser.

In addition, Carlyle has agreed to divest a further 10 percent of its holding through a share buyback scheme with Kito, the statement said.

Carlyle acquired a 90.4 percent stake in then JASDAQ-listed Kito in September 2003, before taking it private. The firm invested ¥13.4 billion (equivalent to $111.8 million at the time) from Carlyle Japan Partners, its first Japanese buyout fund, which closed on ¥50 billion in 2004.

Carlyle then divested approximately half of its stake in the company when Kito listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2007, according to a report on private equity adviser Brightrust PE Japan’s website. Carlyle was unable to confirm how much equity it still holds in the crane maker by the time of writing, but a source close to the firm indicated it had no further plans for divestment at this time.

In February, Carlyle was forced to write off $330 million in equity after another of its early Japanese investments, mobile phone company Willcom, filed for  bankruptcy protection. The private equity firm had partnered with Japanese electronics company Kyocera Corp in 2004 to purchase the Willcom, formerly known as DDI Pocket, in a deal worth ¥220 billion from telephone company KDDI Corp.

However, only a portion of the Willcom investment had come from the first Carlyle Japan Partners fund, with the remainder invested from pan-Asian fund Carlyle Asia Partners and global fund Carlyle Partners III. As such, Carlyle’s head of communications for Asia, Dorothy Lee, told PEI Asia the Japan fund remained “one of the best-performing funds” at the firm.

The Tokyo buyout team, co-headed by Tamotsue Adachi and Masao Hirano, is currently investing from a second fund, Carlyle Japan Partners II, which was launched in 2006 and raised ¥215.6 billion.